THE annual festive fixture between Blyth Buccaneers and Alnwick was played out on a muddy Seagull park with the visitors running out 19-7 winners.
However, Blyth were disrupted by several late cry-offs, and with the second team taking four players, the Buccaneers had to call around to find enough players.
Fortunately, Dave Walker, Carlos Correia and Jason Miller dusted off their boots for their first outing of the season, and not to be out done, Joe Miller, completed his Santa duties for local children and answered the call.
Alnwick lost a player early on, and Blyth stalwart Johny Heyes stood in at hooker, and for most of the first half ensured Jim Smith in the Blyth scrum did not get any of Alnwick ball.
Alnwick took the early initiative with some strong running from their younger backs, and after a fine move took the lead through a converted try.
For much of the rest of the first half, the Blyth forwards took the ball at the Alnwick line, and despite several scoring opportunities, dropped ball and poor passes let Blyth down.
Against the run of play, an interception saw one of the Alnwick centres; stretch away half the length of the field to score. The half ended 14-0 to Alnwick with Blyth turning around with the wind.
The second half saw Alnwick hammer at Blyth in the opening minutes; however, the tackling of the Blyth backs and the strong ball carrying of the forwards saw Blyth take control.
A scrum near the Alnwick line saw Bill Routledge power forward, taken on again by captain Mel Cole, with the forwards quick to the breakdown, the ball was spun from Miller to Walker, who put Chris Hogg in for an excellent try.
Blyth continued to pressure the visitor’s line, and tackled the dangerous Alnwick backs to a standstill, however, it was the referee who had the final say, and after a series of baffling decisions, allowed a blatant offside from Alnwick to go unchecked and this resulted in a try.
At this stage in the game there looked no way back for the home side, and as the referee lost his way, some minor skirmishes marred what had been a cleanly contested game.
There were no more incidents of note, and the players retired to the club house to rekindle old friendships over a festive drink.
Blyth look forward to the rematch at the Lions den, and several players came through injuries unscathed, including a cameo from club captain Tony Smithson, returning from several months rehabilitation following surgery.
The Buccaneers are rested until mid January hopefully this will allow the injured team members to recover and rejoin the team.